Critical Thinking and Problem Solving


Woman writing on board
Woman writing on a whiteboard in the Harper Library

Everybody needs the skills to think critically in order for them to make the best decisions in their studies and in their lives.  The ability to identify an issue, the choices involved, and the outcomes or consequence of each choice serves as the foundation of an educated individual and an enlightened society.

Imagine that you have decided to go out this Saturday for some entertainment.  Your friend gives you five flyers to look at so that you can pick an event.  The flyers have different designs and colors on them.  However, there are no words or any details that give further information to consider about the events.  Most of us would pick the flyer that we think looks the best and make a quick decision without further investigation or contemplation.  Well, that may end up being a good choice.  Maybe it turns out that it is an event you like and can afford.  But maybe it is not an event you like or something so expensive it will really set you back.

When you approach decisions in your life without thinking critically, it is the same as you picking your entertainment from a flyer that has no context or meaning.  You can, for sure, accidently make the correct decisions sometimes without thinking critically.  But you also will make an incorrect decision often.  Each of us wants to make the right decision each time to further our personal and professional lives.  Improving and eventually mastering critical thinking skills makes that possible.  It allows us to put words on those flyers so that we make decisions and become the masters of our fate, rather than hoping that good luck will prevail.

In this chapter, we have designed learning experiences to help you:

  1. Understand of the importance of critical thinking
  2. Assess your mindset toward critical thinking
  3. Practice making decisions using the step-by-step critical thinking process


students in library research session
FYS students researching coping mechanisms for managing stress as part of a critical thinking exercise



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Harper First Year Seminar: A Guide to College Success Copyright © 2023 by Harper College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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